Biography: Sifu John R. Allen

As of 2016 Sifu Allen has been in some form of the Oriental Martial Arts for 59 of his 77 years. He has been the founder and director of the Lair of the Green Dragon Studio of the Chinese Health and Fighting Arts, now known as Green Dragon Kung Fu Productions, for over 50 years.  In addition to the non-commercial, strictly private (by invitation only) studio which began in 1967 (Sifu’s operation was franchised to Master Ong in the years prior), satellite Green Dragon Kung Fu clubs have been eminently successful at both Kent State and The University of Akron since they were established in 1971 (the earliest of such clubs solely devoted to teaching classical Kung Fu in the traditional manner in the United States!).  In 1974 the club at Kent State numbered over 140 students, making it the largest club on campus of any kind, having started over 90 beginners the first week of fall quarter that year!  Smaller operations had also been established at Walsh University and Ashland College, the first of these during the three years that Sifu functioned as Assistant Director to Mr. L. Latell Clark in the federal Upward Bound Program, Clark going on to be the first student promoted to Green Sash.  Unfortunately, due to the ridiculous machinations of a grossly inflated bureaucracy, the prohibition of weapons on campus (regardless of use for training or demonstrating purposes only), and the personal jealousy on the part of administrative officers in the Health & Recreation Departments, similar clubs are no longer even possible.  Sifu Allen has a graduate degree in Philosophy from Kent State; he scored in the top 5% of all students ever taking the MAT when qualifying for his Masters (being told by the professor who proctored the exam that he’d never seen a higher score).
A lifetime of unique experiences in the Oriental martial arts which culminated in the extraordinary resource base that he represents now, did not shape Sifu Allen into a one-dimensional, narrow-minded, linear-thinking individual. Far from it. Everyone who’s come to know him even casually, would define him as a complex, multi-faceted personality who’d rather engage in serious discussion in any of the main areas in which he’s interested or of which he has sound knowledge. As he approaches eight decades of life, his aversion to what he labels as “time and weather” conversation could not be more intense. Most of what happens that involves Green Dragon personnel must have something educational to contribute or Sifu will disassociate himself with the activity at the earliest opportunity.  When some of his staff and his Disciples undertook to compile this brief biographical description of Sifu, it was naturally with the intent to present him strictly within the framework of the martial arts; however, it soon became apparent that to present a complete and accurate picture of him would necessarily require the use of descriptions, anecdotes, and biographical information of a more intimate and personal type.
Some of Sifu Allen’s own teaching can be utilized to accomplish the above objective, for while he claims that his unusual success is due to completely understanding the ’empty rice bowl’ concept, which he feels that most do not–most can define it, but not live it–he also believes that accomplishment in the Chinese Martial Arts is a reflection of the qualities you bring to the experience. He’s often said that the many challenges of the Arts will certainly function to test, prove, and refine your qualities of integrity, stamina, and mental toughness, but a tangible basis for those self-same characteristics had to exist for the demands of the Arts to shape, mold, and augment them through the varied experiences of growth only the Art provides. Our point: what Sifu brought to the Chinese Martial Arts is more foundational to who he is than what he’s taken away even after being so influenced for so long!
Sifu Allen began his martial arts training in 1957 with six years in Shotokan karate, fulfilling all requirements for a 2nd Degree Black Belt.  He started his Kung Fu career in 1963 with Grandmaster Fee Man Ong, who he had witnessed fight Andor Jobb, Hungarian freedom fighter and National Judo Champion, in the late 1950s in a match arranged for Foreign Students Day celebrations on Kent’s campus. Duly impressed with the incredible speed and power that Ong displayed on that occasion, it was an easy extrapolation to envision how Ong had won 34 professional matches in the Orient to finance his way to America.
Prior to facing the challenges the martial arts represents, Sifu Allen’s initial exposure to athletics took the form of a four-year involvement in competitive weight lifting which he began at age twelve.  For two years he trained with the championship Akron YMCA team under the auspices of Jack Hughes, the National Champion in the 123 lb. class, and for two more years under the coaching of the world famous Barnholth brothers, Larry and Louis, who revolutionized the sport by introducing ‘squat style’ lifting and coaching the indomitable George brothers, Pete and Jim, to World, Olympic, and National Championships.  These four years of intensive training imparted a working knowledge of the nature of true physical strength, an essential quality Sifu found to be sadly lacking in the martial arts world, as well as laying a foundation for personal transformation which witnessed Sifu still able to bench 400 lbs. at over 50 years of age!  To initiate substantial gains in physical strength at an earlier point in their training, Sifu coached ten of Green Dragon’s women in a weight lifting program with the primary focus on bench pressing to facilitate the acquisition of upper body strength. The program began in 1997 with achievements that can only be described as remarkable, leading to a feature story in the May 1999 issue of Inside Kung Fu.  Under Sifu Allen’s mentorship, one member of this team, Ms. Yvette Vlack, went on to win both the National and World’s championship in her weight class, setting world record poundages in the process.  Yvette lifted in the “No-No-N0” classification; i.e., no lifting shirt, no wraps, no steroids!
From the beginning, one of Sifu Allen’s highest priorities was to become a comprehensive master of Chinese weaponry.  Unfortunately, ambitions in this regard did not equate with Grandmaster Ong’s teaching philosophy, which was to employ weapons instruction as a last consideration except in the case of his own children (four girls and one boy) to whom all manner of weapons work was introduced very early in their experience.  Master Ong only taught ten men he had hand-picked to participate in his highly vaunted Monday night special class, the objective being to prepare those selected to open ten commercial schools franchised to him here in this area of the Midwest.  As an indication of just how restrictive the instruction in weaponry was, after the initial ten years of hard training in this ‘instructor’s’ class format, only one weapon–an intermediate level sword form–was introduced!!  Sifu’s predilection for in-depth exposure to all types of weapons training intensified after watching a demonstration of a sword and a staff form presented by S. Shaolin Master Tarzen Jung (sic.).  As a consequence, Sifu embarked on a crusade during the decade between 1965 and 1975 to seek out legitimate instruction in a wide cross-section of authentic styles and systems, especially focusing on the acquisition of weapons forms whenever appropriate.  This quest ultimately led to the unique asset base that Green Dragon represents of being able to teach over 300 fighting forms and programs from over 30 different styles, including highly advanced and very rare material so frequently in short supply from other schools.  Much of these resources center on demanding forms incorporating all 72 of the classical weapons indigenous to N. and S.  Shoalin, as well as most of the exotics.  Additionally, Sifu acquired the major power and strength development systems, including the arduous Stone Warrior strength program, the Iron Palm, Iron Vest, and Iron Wire programs, as well dozens of Chi Kung routines, the five major family styles of Tai Chi Ch’uan (with their respective weapons), both the linear and the circular forms of Pa Kua Chang, and two versions of Intellectual Fist.  With a foundation as rich in material as this, the bar was set very high in terms of requirements for attaining rank; Green Dragon students often finding qualifications for Green Sash exceeding requirements for Black Sash in other school operations.
Sifu Allen is honored to be a First Generation Disciple of Grandmaster Gene L. Chicoine, 10th Degree, the highest ranked non-Oriental in the history of the Chinese Martial Arts!  It was while both were working in Master Fee Man Ong’s organization (Sifu as student and Master Chicoine as an instructor ranked directly from Ong’s home temple in the Orient) that Sifu Allen was fortunate to develop a lasting association and personal friendship with Master Chicoine who was to become the 13th Son and Disciple of the legendary Grandmaster Tung Sheng Chang and by Chang to be appointed the First President of the International Shuai Chiao Association, and who acceded to Chang’s preeminent position upon the Grandmaster’s untimely death.  Additionally, in an act having no historical precedent, Grandmaster Chicoine was awarded the specially created Red, White, and Blue Belt the nation of Taiwan had prepared exclusively for Chang.  Originally this unique belt was to be buried with the Grandmaster, indicative of the fact that his incredible record of achievements could never be surpassed.  However, by also deciding to confer this singular honor upon Master Chicoine, Grandmaster Chang’s ultimate wishes were clearly expressed, and the continuing line of authority explicitly delineated, let alone to recognize that a warrior worthy of replacing Chang had indeed been officially ordained to fulfill that exalted position. From their very first meeting Grandmaster Chang had been impressed with Master Chicoine’s strict style of command, his organizational and leadership skills, and, of course, his training and tremendous physical power — the latter graphically illustrated in his astonishing Iron Palm capabilities which have established him to be without peer in light of his remarkable feats of breaking.  As an addendum of historical significance, it should be noted that the direct and explicit orders of Grandmaster Chang as to his successor and the future organization and structure of Shuai Chiao were totally violated and disregarded by a rebellious element of the Shuai Chiao community strictly on the basis of racial discrimination — Grandmaster Chicoine is not Chinese(!) — an act of insufferable disloyalty and overt infidelity that will redound throughout history to their ultimate shame and degradation. For the record, it should also be noted that Sifu Allen brought the racial issue to the attention of Inside Kung Fu‘s editorial staff during the 1989 Houston Nationals.  They challenged his evaluation of the situation and scheduled a meeting with the leaders of the faction desiring to form their own Shuai Chiao program.  The confrontation left the IKF personnel in a state of shock. All of the allegations Sifu Allen shared with IKF personnel were not only acknowledged, but it was readily admitted that the blatant subversion was motivated solely by the racial intolerance question!
Sifu Allen is often asked to sum up the career, stature and achievements of Grandmaster Chicoine in one sentence.  As is the case with utilization of stories from other non-related areas to illustrate a point in response to such a question, Sifu draws on his extensive knowledge from the area of movie musicals — now a largely forgotten art form — a type of entertainment to which Sifu became attracted as a child, and over the years on which he accumulated a wealth of information (don’t ever engage him in ‘trivia’ contests in such areas!).  Regardless, in the movie That’s Entertainment from 1974, the first of four films celebrating the great movie musicals produced by MGM Studios from the late 1930s through the early 1950s, there is a section hosted by Frank Sinatra, himself no stranger to this now forgotten genre of entertainment.  During his narration a performance is featured that many critics have praised as the greatest tap dance ever filmed, a choreography designed especially to suit the technical skills of the incomparable Fred Astaire and, the only female who was ever close to being his equal (sorry Ginger), the dazzling Eleanor Powell, the lead actors in the musical film Broadway Melody of 1940 with the music of Cole Porter.  Many have speculated that had this film been shot in color, as was initially planned (and so promised to Fred Astaire), it would be heralded today as the greatest musical of all time instead of the generally accepted Singing in the Rain which is regarded as holding that distinction. Regardless, as this spectacular dance sequence begins, Sinatra says: “You know, you can wait around and hope, but I’ll tell you, you’re never going to see the likes of this again!”  For Sifu, that characterizes Grandmaster Chicoine as well.  In a phrase, there was nothing like him before, is not now, and will never be again.  What more needs to be said?
Sifu Allen is an only child as was his father before him, and as he matured he discovered that most of his interests were diametrically opposed to the fads and trends of his contemporaries.  Some of his early passions were influenced and conditioned by an Italian family with eight sons that lived next door. Though all were good role models, three in particular are credited by Sifu with introducing him to concepts, skills, and activities he may otherwise not have had the opportunity to experience.  Vitorio, the eldest, was an extremely strong man who routinely bent 60 penny nails double with his bare hands and who introduced Sifu to weight lifting.  A middle son, Emilio, was a decorated combat engineer in the South Pacific campaign in WWII who stimulated Sifu’s already growing interest in a military career.  Lastly, there was the youngest, Daniello, whose passion was guns in any context and who shared his encyclopedic knowledge in this area with Sifu Allen as to both shooting fundamentals and collecting.
Sifu’s deep seated interest in a military career was further fueled by his voracious appetite for reading, usually finishing a book a week at least, and characterized by an insatiable regard for military history in general and World War II era subjects in particular (military history, philosophy, and theology were his three favorite subjects).  The acquisition of a strong foundation in this area, formed by study in his pre and early teens, was reflected later in papers written for military history class in Army ROTC at Kent State, which were declared exceptional for both research and exposition.  So perceptive and insightful was his thinking that the ROTC Department created a special course for him to teach for additional credits when he came up short of hours for graduation in 1961.  Sifu Allen had applied to West Point in 1957 and was denied entry due to the existing eyesight requirement of 20/20 non-correctable. Only one year later that stipulation was changed to 20/20 correctable and Sifu would have been accepted.  In the meantime, however, he had decided to avail himself of Kent State’s excellent ROTC Program as the means for obtaining a regular Army commission, and his experience the very first year served to confirm that his decision was a sound one.  Sifu’s successes began early when awarded the Best Drilled Basic Cadet, and culminated four years later in receiving the Thomas F. Wall Award as the Outstanding Cadet all four years 1957-1961.  In the interim he won the Individual Drill Championship at Purdue Univeristy, was elected as Executive Officer of Company K-1, NSPR as a Junior and then unanimously elected Company Commander for his senior year; in both of those capacities Sifu was awarded the Legion of Merit, Grade of Commander Medal from the Pershing Rifles National Headquarters.  Sifu’s ROTC experience culminated in fulfillment of his initial goal: he finished with a Distinguished Military Graduates rating, receiving the only Regular Army Commission in his class.
For many reasons that are beyond the scope of this brief biography, Sifu Allen and his military aspirations were put on hold and eventually discarded all together; however, Sifu and the Army ROTC Program were to be allied one more time.  After the shooting by the National Guard in May of 1970, anything and everything that students could posit as controversial issues, however ridiculous, was brought before the university as a challenge to the wisdom and authority of the administration.  ROTC was no exception, a ‘movement’ rapidly developed to abolish the program from Kent’s campus altogether.  Hearings had been proceeding for some time under the auspices of Dr. Bernard Hall, Vice-President and Provost, and Chairman of the Educational Policies Counsel, as to the future disposition of the ROTC Program.  Though a university-wide referendum had resulted in a larger percentage of the student body favoring retention, the hearings grew increasingly negative and seemed to indicate that abolishment would be the likely recommendation.  At this critical juncture the ROTC Department delegated Colonel Walter R. Vlasak, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, to request that Sifu Allen testify at the hearings on behalf of the ROTC. Sifu agreed, submitted a formal request to present himself for testimony, and several days later availed himself of the opportunity to tell his story before the committee.  Working from three typewritten pages of notes which he rarely consulted, Sifu made his case for the sensible course of retention with such impact that he received a standing ovation at its conclusion!  A number of officials, representing both the military and the university, credit Sifu’s presentation on that day with saving Kent State’s ROTC Program from certain dissolution.
For many years Sifu Allen was a regular contributor to Inside Kung Fu Magazine, having numerous feature articles published since the late 1980s until the magazine was discontinued in 2011.  For those practicing legitimate traditional kung fu, IKF was the only publication giving voice to their concerns. Whether evaluating it from the standpoint of design, format, or, most importantly, content, it was unique among such publications, distinctions largely a reflection of its Chief Editor, Dave Cater, a man of unquestionable integrity, penetrating judgment, tenacious resolve, and scrupulous journalistic instincts.  No individual in the martial arts media, before or since, became such a clear and cohesive force in the kung fu community, particularly in his consistent attempts to represent the entire spectrum of the countless Chinese styles and systems in a fair and balanced manner despite the unrelenting pressures wielded by special interest groups and certain well-publicized individuals having ‘celebrity’ status. No other editor had the gumption to ask tough questions involving any aspect of the Bruce Lee phenomenon, for example; that was sacred ground and you walked there at your peril.  In an editorial appraising Lee’s ‘contribution’ to the material wealth of the kung fu arts, Cater not only walked there, but blew the door off with the following challenge question proffered in his usual direct and penetrating manner: “What the hell is Jeet Kune Do anyway?”.  As expected, the backlash was widespread and severe, everything except addressing the question at hand!  Sifu Allen quickly called to express his appreciation for the honesty, and commended Cater for his fortitude in laying the issue on the line.  The value(s) of the ‘broad brush’ approach Cater consistently employed in addressing the enormous diversity characterizing the world of the Chinese fighting arts may never be able to be assessed accurately, an on-going tribute to the sweep of his vision, to his incisive analysis of pertinent issues, and his constant efforts to ensure that balance in reporting be maintained.  The glaring differences between the decades that IKF was published and current circumstances is a negative contrast that’s doing extensive and perhaps irreparable damage to genuine, classical kung fu; not only have most sources of print journalism been replaced by the electronic media, but the focus is narrowly confined to coverage of three primary areas: Wu Shu (what else?), the ‘internal’ arts, and, of course, MMA (follow the money!).  Authentic classical kung fu taught in the traditional manner is no longer even considered a player, and commentary is rigidly controlled and restricted only to those of Chinese extraction, once again the specter of racial exclusivism raising its ugly head.  Needless to say, Cater would not have played this game.  Likewise, writers of Sifu Allen’s caliber now have no vehicle to provide critique and/or counterpoint to any topical facet of the Chinese martial arts scene, let alone have the support of an individual like Dave Cater with the authority and resource base to provide an adequate forum for presenting conflicting viewpoints, alternative training strategies, or general commentary.  To illustrate how radically different circumstances are now, the following quote appeared in the editorial section of the September 1989 issue of Inside Kung Fu magazine on the occasion of adding Sifu Allen and Master Chicoine to the staff of IKF as feature contributors and columnists:
Sifu Allen (left) with his mentor Grandmaster Gene L. Chicoine.
Such a compliment would be impossible now.  Everyone in the industry is well aware that Sifu writes better when adopting a confrontational or adversarial position relative to his topic and that he’s certainly not partial to the three dominant topics that everyone wants to stress — i.e., MMA, Wu Shu, and the ‘internal’ styles.  Regardless, the arrangement initially suggested by IKF to Sifu Allen was centered on a bi-monthly column in alternation with Master Chicoine along with as many feature articles as Sifu would care to submit — IKF agreeing (as they rarely, if ever, did) that Sifu’s writing would not be edited.  This relationship came to include appearing on the cover of the June 1989 issue with three of his Disciples (a condition Sifu insisted upon) — the first and only time in the history of the magazine that more than two people were allowed on the cover!  The issue was an unqualified success!
It should be understood that Sifu Allen’s personal preference has always been to maintain a low profile.  Publicity and any kind of notoriety or individual aggrandizement doesn’t interest Sifu in the slightest, he has always preferred to feature the accomplishments of the students he’s developed.  Some feel his aversion to public acclaim is carried to the point of reclusiveness, however, privacy is a condition he cherishes.  His efforts to keep his enormous knowledge base and the Green Dragon operation in the background succeeded for the first 20 years (1967-1986); however, the launch of the instructional videotapes mail order division in 1986 thrust Sifu and his amazing repertoire of rare, highly advanced fighting forms and programs — not to mention his insightful commentary on the MA scene — onto center stage worldwide, and students at all levels of experience were quick to respond from all over the international kung fu community.  Letters began to pour in from many of the over 100 countries that Green Dragon tapes were being shipped to, which created a new perspective on Sifu’s part as to just how limited and superficial legitimate classical kung fu training was.  Within the first 24 months two file folders of correspondence over one inch thick each were compiled, essentially divided between those private letters expressing appreciation and those inquiring as to background information of all kinds.  Letters with similar content were being received at IKF headquarters in Burbank further stimulating their interest in what was so special about Green Dragon and Sifu John Allen.  Dozens of these appeared in IKF in support of seeing and hearing more from the Green Dragon team in general and Sifu Allen in particular.  Short excerpts from the “Letters to the Editor” column are indicative of such content:
“I just wanted to compliment John R. Allen on his article in the November article was entitled ‘The Three Cardinal Principles of Chinese Fighting” and was the best article I have ever read in any martial arts magazine.”  D. E., Hollywood, CA.
“I was extremely pleased, while scanning through the March issue, to see that John Allen was back writing articles.  The content of the article was surpassed only by the fluid flow of a skilled writer.”  S. C., Colorado Springs, CO.
(The comment on “back writing articles” is explained below)
“This is only the second time in my seventeen years as a martial artists hat I have written to a magazine… but I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Sifu John Allen’s article ‘White Lotus & Tiger Claws’ (IKF, March 1992).  I have found Sifu Allen’s articles to be highly informative and educational (a welcome change from the constant deluge of Bruce Lee stories…).” H. H., Grand Rapids, MI.
“I have ordered many instructional tapes over the years, but this is the first time I have been compelled to write after watching one.  The White Lotus Continuous Palms set is one of the best, if not the very best, I have ever purchased.  Sifu John Allen and staff are definitely heads and shoulders above the competition concerning instructional tapes.”  J. W., Denison, TX.
“I read everything I can by Sifu John Allen and Master Gene Chicoine, they are two accomplished teachers that obviously know their subject as few others do.  What an honor and privilege it would be to learn from them directly.”  W. V., Tacoma, WA.
“I was very pleased to see the August, 1988 article on ‘The Women of Green Dragon.’  I’ve been very pleased with the quality of their instructional tapes and with the wide variety of styles they represent.  The people at Green Dragon Studio obviously work very hard, and have an intense desire to share what they have learned with the rest of the martial arts world. Love him or hate him, there is certainly no denying Sifu John Allen’s accomplishments.”  S. K., Aston, PA.
“I was very impressed by the article on ‘Classical Fighting Forms’ in the December 1988 issue of IKF by Sifu John Allen.  It’s always a pleasure to see articles by Green Dragon’s staff.  They are most interesting and informative.”  D. S., Glendale, AR.
“The August 1988 issue if IKF… (was) an excellent issue.  …(one article) I felt deserved extra praise was on training techniques used at Green Dragon Studio by Sifu John Allen and Marge Smith.  …(the article was) smoothly written and made some very astute observations such as the usually secondary treatment of women as well as the true importance of the value of forms.  These authors should be commended for providing useful insights in a time when superficial sensationalism sells.”  M. C., Salinas, CA.
“I’ve got one comment and one request concerning instructional tapes from Green Dragon your video review board has rated number one for the last two seasons.  The comment: WOW!  The request: Keep them coming!” E. D., Chicago, IL
The relationship between Green Dragon and IKF continued developing in a highly satisfactory and rapidly growing manner until repeated protests from Chinese instructors on the west coast — obviously threatened by Sifu Allen’s comprehensive knowledge base and expanding popularity — pressured IKF publisher Curtis Wong into not only abrogating the contractual arrangements editor Cater had worked out, but got the compliant Mr. Wong to agree to the outrageous demand that no non-Chinese appear on the magazine cover for at least one year!  Characteristically, Cater called Sifu Allen personally to apologize and express his own contempt at the action he was ordered to take as well as to insure that he took the year to be a probationary period after which anything that Sifu Allen wished to submit to IKF would be most welcome.  In his typical disregard for individual recognition or publicity for the Studio, Sifu sent nothing for an additional year, and then only sparingly after that.
Unfortunately, from Sifu Allen’s point of view, the increasing recognition over the past 30 years came with two disproportionate drawbacks: first, it was unavoidable to relinquish the privacy he prizes so highly; second, the program was now exposed to the inevitable scrutiny and criticisms from those of different persuasion – some reasonable and most ridiculous.  As a consequence, Sifu resigned himself to utilizing his formidable writing skills to address some of the silly concepts so pervasive in the martial arts world, and, in fact, used the additional controversy(sies) to his advantage – one that comes when you’re scrupulously honest and employ a ‘call it like it is’ approach.  In that regard, perhaps no one has spoken out with such force, fullness, and clarity on those categories that came to be identified as ‘issues’ when associated with any of Sifu Allen’s writing.  While the correspondence factor experienced by Green Dragon is currently diminished substantially from the huge influx it used to be, letters now generally originate with teachers or highly ranked students who are deeply lamenting the total absence of critical writing on topical subjects – especially coming from a critic with long term and comprehensive martial arts experience, such as Sifu Allen’s columns and features in IKF would always reflect.  Since the war for dominance has favored MMA, Wu Shu, and the ‘internal’ styles at the expense of classical kung fu (and no one wants to rock the boat), everyone with any media connection of influence (almost all of whom are Chinese!) work overtime to project an image of total uniformity and brotherhood – a state which has never existed, let alone characterizes the condition of kung fu today!

Sifu Allen is well known for his censure of programs that have limited material to teach; of schools that de-emphasize the indispensability of strength training; of any style or system that has extremely low standards/requirements for awarding of rank; of the manner in which tournaments are conducted (no allowance for the essential degree of difficulty, no recognition of strength differential); of programs that put the stress on training for tournaments at the expense of concentration on classical fighting forms; and of the failure to employ extensive weapons work of all kinds which deprives students of the tremendous developmental challenges that can accelerate the progress of a serious student at an exponential rate – a fact demonstrated hundreds of times by Green Dragon personnel over the past five decades.  Needless to say, being reduced to a preoccupation with MMA, Wu Shu, and the ‘internal’ styles, Sifu would be hammering away if a platform equivalent to IKF still existed, pleading the cause of thousands who’ll never have the interest, desire or aptitude to have their choices for training restricted to the above three.

For someone to have garnered as much worldwide attention and favorable comment as Sifu Allen has since 1986, it is remarkable to many that he hasn’t a trace of ego to assuage.  As his long term students are well aware, Sifu was assaulted twice by determined armed attackers, one with a knife on the first occasion, and one with a freight hook on the second — both with the intent to inflict maximum damage.  Fortunately for us, in both instances it was attackers who paid a steep price for their aggression; however, this kind of success is not something from which Sifu expects students to derive motivation.  Rather, the pure, authentic sets/fighting forms of classical Kung fu are what they should find to be infinitely inspiring.

Summarily, what has Sifu Allen’s impact on the Chinese martial arts been?  Consultation with a cross-section of his senior students would produce enough descriptive opinion to take a book to relate in that they view him as the Kung fu counterpart to the proverbial Renaissance Man.  However, in keeping with Sifu’s central objective of emphasizing his teaching and the quality of the students he’s developed in well over half a century, the following could be noted: in the late 1980s, Mr. Dave Cater, previously alluded to in this biography as Inside Kung Fu Magazine‘s senior editor for the entire 35+ years of its existence, requested a visit to Green Dragon Studio to personally ascertain the nature of the activities drawing so much attention from around the world.  Remember, virtually nothing went on in the international Kung fu community that Mr. Cater had not been a witness to — in a phrase, he had seen it all!  After watching the Green Dragon demonstration team perform for 90 minutes, we think his comment is the best one-sentence summary of what sets Green Dragon apart, and is a fitting testimonial to Sifu Allen’s content and method of instruction. To quote:


3 thoughts on “Biography: Sifu John R. Allen

  1. Congratulations and God’s Blessings to Si-Fu Allen! I’ve Always valued my time spent at ‘Hep-Sing’ on Home Ave. in Akron when I first started, .. to ‘Green Dragon’ in Tallmadge! I’ve been to many kung-fu schools over the years,… But, I’ve never experienced the combination of Strength training and flexibility , as well as the Wide variations of Chinese styles that Si-Fu Allen’s schools offer! ‘Do Jie Saai’! ‘Gung Hay Tai Ho’!


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